We always hear that you should plant more trees, save the forests, and keep our planet green. Sometimes brands market by saying they plant a tree after every order or simply donate to programs that plant trees regularly. But why are tree so important really?
Well, for a start, they provide us with oxygen - which is absolutely necessary for our survival - as well as store carbon, stabilize soil, and provide habitat and shelter for animals. Trees are the largest plants on the planet and are actually the longest living species on the planet. Recently, the emphasis on how important trees really are has become stronger and today we’ll tell you exactly why.
Scientists have still not been able to create a complete census on how many tree species there are on Earth, but recently they released a global database of over 60,000 tree species that they have on record to this day. Of course this number continues to grow since not all species have been discovered yet, but this number in and of itself is mind blowing! Many trees are able to live well over 100 years, but some species have lifespans between 1,000 - 4,000 years old. Crazy, right? These ancient giants hold secrets we can only ever wish to know.
Now lets get into their importance. The canopies of trees are able to act as a filter that trap physical particles like dust, but also chemical particles like pollutants that are in the air. A mature tree is able to absorb carbon dioxide from the air at a rate of 21 kilograms (46 lbs) per year. In a recent study, scientists determined that a worldwide planting program could remove about two-thirds of all emissions from human activities found in the atmosphere today. This would mean planting trees in bare fields, excluding fliers used to grow crops as well as urban areas. Trees can also help reduce the amount of fertilizer runoff from agricultural fields by absorbing up to 88% of nitrate and 76% of phosphorus if there are stream-side buffer trees.
Soil erosion is a huge issue in todays world and a lot of fertile soil is washed off into our waterways, causing sediment induced damages such as impairing drinking water quality, harming marine ecosystems, and clogging irrigation canals. Trees have complex roots systems that spread out below the surface of the soil, holding it in place. With more trees to hold down the soil, soil erosion and the damage that comes with it is reducing greatly. Trees not only help reduce soil erosion when there is heavy rainfall or flooding, it also purifies the water that runs flows over the canopies and through their root system before entering the waterways. A large, mature tree is able to absorb about 42 kiloliters (11,000 gallons!) of water, that is then released back into the atmosphere as water vapor and oxygen, all in a single growing season.
Trees are not only beneficial in combating the climate crisis, they are also good for our overall health. Humans are innately connected to nature, but unfortunately many peoples’ bond between nature has faded. Have you ever hugged a tree? If you never have, we strongly recommend you try it! Studies have shown that embracing a tree has a wide range of positive effects on our health. This simple act increases levels of hormone oxytocin which is the hormone responsible for feeling calm and emotional bonding. The hormone serotonin and dopamine are also released which are responsible to feelings of happiness and joy.
Not only do trees benefit the environment, they also benefit your well-being. So if you have the space for a tree in your yard, plant one! If you don’t have a yard, start a petition for more trees in your area. And if you ever see a tree that you feel compelled to hug, don’t hold back!